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National Focus: Stories From Scotland

Buses in the West of Scotland to be Locally Controlled

Plans are in place to bring bus services in the west of Scotland back under local control. This would mean a reversal of deregulation and that fares and routes would be controlled by a local public body such as Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT).

Within the plans, bus firms would have to bid for contracts within an approved network, and routes with lower patronage would be subsidised by busier, more popular routes. The current system of deregulation was introduced by Margaret Thatcher in 1986, and was meant to drive down fares and improve services within a competitive market. Instead, the system has led to complaints about the lack of services on less profitable routes, punctuality, and higher costs.

According to SPT, bus use in the region has plummeted by a third in the past decade — equating to 70 million fewer bus journeys.

 

Change, however, will not be immediate. SPT has warned it could take between five and seven years for a franchise system like the Bee Network in Manchester to be in operation. It also claims it would need at least £45m in extra funding per year.

 

Hate Crime Law Facing Further Controversy in Information Campaign

 

On 1 April, the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act will come into place, and the adjoining public information campaign is receiving backlash.

 

The campaign includes a Police Scotland video featuring a cartoon ‘hate monster’. The video has been called patronising on social media, but proponents of the new law say the disagreements surrounding the video distract from the seriousness of the legislation.

The law criminalises threatening or abusive behaviour which is intended to stir up hatred regarding the categories of age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity, and variations in sex characteristics, sometimes known as being intersex.

The legislation is the subject of intense discussion regarding the omission of sex itself as a category of discrimination, the abolition of Police Scotland to enforce the law, and the rise of third-party reporting centres, such as a sex shop in Glasgow.

 

Climate Cost to Fall on Scotland

 

According to the Scottish Fiscal Commission (SFC), tackling climate change will cost the public sector £1.1bn a year, 18 per cent of the Scottish government’s capital budget. This relates to the commitment to reach ‘net-zero’ greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland by 2045, and the UK as a whole by 2050. 


Image by Wikimedia Commons


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